Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's A Religious Freedom Issue, Not A Contraception Issue--What Could Result From This Decision?

The subject has been so much in the news lately that it hardly needs no introduction from me.

The president is wrong to force this issue. Why did he go against the advice of so many of his advisers, including the vice president? I believe it was solely to score political points. His defenders are making this a battle over contraception but that's just red meat for his leftie base. No one is talking about denying contraception or abortion to anyone; this case is about having to pay for someone else's contraception or abortion. For many who view abortion as akin to murder, that's asking too much.

Some argue that this decision is like others that impact on religious freedom--rules against polygamy, for example. The difference is that in that case an activity is banned, while in this case individuals and groups are compelled to take an action. The difference is more than semantic.

Employers providing health insurance is a market response to government's ham-handed meddling in World War II, specifically wage controls. Company A, which produced ships for the war effort, wasn't allowed to pay employees a higher wage than Company B, which produced bullets for the war effort--employee mobility might cause one company not to be able to ship war materiel on time. Shipbuilder Henry Kaiser got around that law by offering health care to his employees, as "bennies" weren't affected by the law. Smart people will always find loopholes in laws, and exploit them.

Today we're left with the detritus of that bad law, built upon piecemeal for the past 70 years. Today it's just assumed that employers provide health insurance, even though we'd never expect them to provide car insurance or homeowners insurance, and now the government wants employers to provide specific services that go against the conscience of many.

Socialism, or corporate fascism? In this instance there's not much of a choice, really.

So how might some universities respond to this horrible requirement attached to a horrible law that has its genesis in a ridiculous law from 70 years ago? Here's how:
"The Department of Health and Human Services hardly seems like the appropriate place for such a determination to be made," wrote Mark Benedetto, the president of the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, a school founded by Baptists in 1872. "I am concerned that the regulations as written will violate the conscience of our institution as it relates to the health care plan that we offer to our students--the exemption is for employer plans, as written it does not appear to also include the student plans. Not only would this force our institution to violate our religious convictions by offering emergency contraceptives to our students, it would put us in the awkward position of offering a health care plan to our employees that is consistent with their religious convictions while offering another to our students that violates their religious convictions."

Some schools have already made the decision to revoke insurance to students not covered by their parents. A spokesman from Colorado Christian University, an interdenominational school in Denver that has filed a lawsuit opposing the rule, said students will be forced to seek insurance options elsewhere if the administration does not change course.
I don't think anyone argues that colleges should provide health insurance to students (at least, I haven't heard anyone seriously propose that), so one effect will be that religious colleges and universities could drop their student health plans completely.

What was it I said earlier, about smart people's finding loopholes in laws?

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